E-dividend mandate – a noble but unpublicized initiative

E-dividend mandate – a noble but unpublicized initiative

The e-commerce project of the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to have all shares captured under the e-dividend platform, is a noble and laudable initiative worthy of commendation. The expected high level of success from the project has, however, been limited by lack of awareness on the part of SEC as well as the beneficiaries.

Investigations reveal that the exercise had commenced on a very low key in November 2015, but most investors were either unaware, or unready, to take advantage of the program. In large part, this is attributable to lack of education of investors of the benefits accruable to enrollees. Thereafter, the exercise was extended by SEC till June 2017, then Dec. 2017, and thereafter, Feb. 2018. On my part, I only got to hear of the exercise mid-2017 and never knew of the various extensions till January this year.

Noteworthy is the fact that investors who registered for the e-dividend have started receiving current dividends via their bank accounts. Some have also received their unclaimed dividends credited into their accounts.

While campaigning for another extension at the end of February, I discovered that many investors had yet to be informed of the exercise, and therefore were yet to benefit from it. In response, these ones pleaded for extension. However, throughout March 2018, there continued to be free registration in the registrars’ offices, an indication that SEC is still desirous of many shareholders benefiting from the program.

In the light of the above, all shareholders and investors are encouraged to find time to exploit the free registration through their banks or registrars’ offices as soon as possible.

To do this, please go to this link https://sec.gov.ng/non-mandated/ and fill in your first and last names, and it will bring out a list of the companies where you have shares, the name of your registrar, and your details. Download the relevant registrar’s form, fill in your details and take to your nearest bank branch or preferably, your registrar’s office. If your name does not appear with a company where you have shares, search online for the registrar of that company, download the form, fill it, and submit to their office.

A major objective of the exercise was to relieve investors of the lacunae involved in paying their dividends into their bank accounts, while also eradicating the need for paper dividends.

From a little over N2 billion in 1999, the figure for unclaimed dividends by the end of 2008 had surpassed N20 billion. As at December 2017, the SEC estimate for the value of unclaimed dividends stands at N103 billion.

The SEC review of the progress of the e-Dividend Registration exercise, after the December 31, 2017 deadline, found that there was still many ‘uncaptured’ shareholders desirous of mandating their bank accounts for electronic payment of dividends.

In view of the many benefits to both investors and the capital market, further extension with adequate publicity of this laudable initiative is hereby recommended.

Olayemi Nwobodo

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